We (well, me) here at The Female Fan like to take on a wide range of issues relating to the sports industry. Tonight’s issue? Gender. Yes, readers, it’s another feminist-y post – I know you’ve been waiting ages for it.
So let’s take a look at our subject for this post, a Verizon Wireless NFL Mobile commercial called “Jane.”
Based on the package you get, NFL Mobile can provide highlights, updates, and even live footage of games. As the description attests, with this app, “no one will know the game better than you.” Sounds pretty cool, right? Like a football fan’s new best friend. The only reason I don’t have the equivalent of something like this for baseball is because if I did, any relationship I had outside of my smartphone would cease to exist. So my issue is not with the product itself. My issue is with Jane.
We don’t see Jane for very long – only 33 seconds to be exact – but in our short time with her we can learn a whole lot. When we first meet Jane, she has just discovered NFL Mobile. What was her life like before that? From the glimpse we get in those first few seconds, it looks pretty lonely; she is sitting in her dark living room, with her hair messily pulled back, sweats on, surrounded only by her cats. So I’ll just say what everyone is thinking: before NFL Mobile, Jane is a cat lady.
But what about after? Readers, NFL Mobile changes Jane. The transformation isn’t immediate – it takes a few Packers games before she’s up on all the rules and lingo. It’s not long though until she’s the one who knows all the latest stats and… wait a minute. Who’s that girl at the end of the commercial elbowing Drew Brees? Long straight hair, all made up, no glasses, cute sundress? Is that Jane?! Certainly doesn’t look like the Jane I knew 30 seconds ago. Does this mean what I think it does? NFL Mobile can change my looks? Can it make me prettier? Hey! Maybe NFL Mobile can even get me a boyfriend!
Do we see the problem here? I’ll admit, I didn’t the first time I saw it. But a few views later I was pretty upset. Yes, Jane looked pretty lonely at the beginning of the commercial, and sports are a great way to socialize. Fan communities are some of the strongest, and showing that this sports app is helping to create a social transformation is fine – but why does it need to be accompanied by a physical transformation as well? Never, while watching a sporting event have I thought about getting my hair done, changing my look, or going shopping (well maybe it’s not true about that last one, but I like to shop, okay!). So why is it that during her evolution as a sports fan – which was prompted by NFL Mobile – Jane has also chosen to undergo a makeover? In other cases you might be able to call it a stretch or a loose connection, but this is a 33 second commercial. Everything was chosen and planned out with a reason or purpose in mind.
So the next time you see this commercial, cover the eyes of any young, impressionable girls who are near you. Tell them that this isn’t what sports are about. If you’re looking to learn more about the game, NFL Mobile is probably a great app for all things football all the time. Looking for a makeover though? Try the mall. I’ll be on the couch in an old t-shirt and jeans watching the Giants.